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Former SEC Commissioner Visits Securities Regulation Class

On February 12, 2009, former Securities and Exchange Commissioner Paul S. Atkins visited Professor Bondi's and Professor Sporkin's Advanced Securities Regulation class. Professor Bondi, who previously served as counsel to Commissioner Atkins, invited the former commissioner to visit the class, which deals with issues and concerns facing today's securities practitioners.

Commissioner Atkins discussed generally the organization of the SEC, focusing on the Division of Enforcement and the Office of Compliance Inspections and Examinations (OCIE), both of which have been the topic of much discussion in light of the recently exposed Madoff fraud. Commissioner Atkins also discussed the inner workings of the SEC and identified areas of the agency that could be improved, relying on the thought-provoking law review article that he co-wrote with Professor Bondi. See Paul S. Atkins and Bradley J. Bondi, Evaluating the Mission: A Critical Review of the History and Evolution of the SEC Enforcement Program, 13 Fordham Journal of Corp. & Financial Law 367 (June 2008).

In the enforcement context, Commissioner Atkins stressed the importance of ensuring that the due process rights of defendants are observed during an investigation. Commissioner Atkins also opined on what he viewed as the faulty incentive and reward system for SEC enforcement attorneys and the inappropriate emphasis by senior SEC officers on obtaining big penalty numbers from well-known public companies. According to Commissioner Atkins, the current SEC enforcement program is not set up to detect Ponzi, pump and dump and penny stock manipulation schemes because they can be difficult to understand and, contrary to major corporate investigations and settlements, these schemes often do not result in dramatic newspaper headlines. 

The intimate nature of the class, which only has ten students, allowed for a dynamic question and answer format that complemented Commissioner Atkins' two hour visit.  

Paul S. Atkins was appointed by President George W. Bush to be a Commissioner of the Securities and Exchange Commission on July 29, 2002. He served in that capacity until August 2008.